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Waved woodpecker

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Waved woodpecker
Celeus undatus - Waved woodpecker (male).jpg
Celeus undatus - Waved woodpecker (female on the nest).jpg
Female at nest
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Celeus
C. undatus
Binomial name
Celeus undatus
(Linnaeus, 1766)

See text

  • Picus undatus Linnaeus, 1766

The waved woodpecker (Celeus undatus) is a species of bird in the family Picidae, the woodpeckers. It is found in the Guianas of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana; also eastern border regions of Venezuela and the northeast Amazon basin of northern Brazil including Marajo Island, Ilha de Marajo. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.


The English naturalist George Edwards described and illustrated the waved woodpecker in his Gleanings of Natural History which he published in 1764. Edwards used the English name "Red-cheeked Wood-pecker".[2] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he included the waved woodpecker, coined the binomial name Picus undatus and cited Edwards's book. Linnaeus specified the type locality as Surinam.[3] The specific epithet undatus is Medieval Latin for "wavy" or "wavelike".[4] The waved woodpecker is now placed in the genus Celeus that was introduced by the German zoologist Friedrich Boie in 1831.[5][6]

Three subspecies are recognised:[6]

  • C. u. amacurensis Phelps & Phelps Jr, 1950 – northeast Venezuela
  • C. u. undatus (Linnaeus, 1766) – east Venezuela, the Guianas and northeast Brazil
  • C. u. multifasciatus (Natterer & Malherbe, 1845) – northeast Brazil (south of the Amazon)


The adult waved woodpecker has a length of about 23 cm (9 in). The back of the head bears a brown, shaggy tuft with faint blackish markings. The male has bright red cheeks, while the female lacks any red facial colouring, but otherwise the sexes are similar. The head and body are a blend of various shades of cinnamon, rufous, and chestnut, finely barred with black. The rump is yellowish-brown, with some dark barring. The main flight feathers are black and the tail feathers are chestnut, tipped with black. The throat is cinnamon, speckled with brown, and the underparts are buff or chestnut, densely marked with dark barrings or chevron-shaped markings. The eye is reddish brown, the beak is yellow or buff with a bluish base and the legs are grey. This bird could be confused with the scaly-breasted woodpecker, but that species has a darker head and no barring on the rump.[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The waved woodpecker is found in tropical north-eastern South America. Its range extends from Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela through the Guianas to northeastern Brazil, both north and south of the Amazon River, and southwards to eastern Peru and Bolivia. It occurs in lowland rainforest, mostly below 1,000 m (3,300 ft), secondary forest and forest margins, and sometimes visits scattered trees in savannah grassland.[1][7]

Behavior and ecology[edit]

The waved woodpecker may occur singly or in pairs, and sometimes joins small mixed species foraging groups. It feeds unobtrusively on the trunks and branches of trees and among the foliage, largely foraging for ants and termites, but supplementing these with fruits, berries and seeds.[7]


The waved woodpecker has a very large range and a presumed large total population, which may be declining slowly. The chief threat it faces is degradation of its forest habitat. It is a resident species, sometimes described as being uncommon, but that may in part be because of its unobtrusive behaviour. It seems tolerant of secondary habitats, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of least concern.[1]


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2019). "Celeus undatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019. Retrieved 10 May 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Edwards, George (1764). Gleanings of Natural History, exhibiting figures of quadrupeds, birds, insects, plants &c... Part 3. London: Printed for the author, at the College of Physicians. pp. 258 Plate 332.
  3. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 175.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 395. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Boie, Friedrich (1831). "Bemerkungen über Species und einige ornithologische Familien und Sippen". Isis von Oken (in German). Cols 538–548 [542].
  6. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Woodpeckers". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Gorman, Gerard (2014). Woodpeckers of the World: A Photographic Guide. Firefly Books. p. 367. ISBN 177085309X.

External links[edit]

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